Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Director: Andy Tennant

Writer: C Jay Cox (Screenplay) Douglas J Eboch (Story)

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Candice Bergen, May Kay Place, Fred Ward, Jean Smart, Ethan Embry, Melanie Lynskey


Plot: A young woman who’s reinvented herself as a New York socialite must return home to Alabama to obtain a divorce from her husband, after seven years of separation.

Tagline – Sometimes What You’re Looking For Is Right Where You Left It.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Sweet Rom Com


Story: Sweet Home Alabama starts as we see Melanie Carmichael (Witherspoon) a rising fashion designer in New York, dating the Mayor (Bergen) son Andrew Hennings (Dempsey) who proposes to her. This becomes massive news in the city, But Melanie must return to Alabama to get a divorce from her first husband Jake (Lucas) her childhood sweetheart.

Returning home Melanie gets to see how the friends and family have been living their own lives without her, how the people have changed and just how many people she left behind.


Thoughts on Sweet Home Alabama


Characters – Melanie was a small-town girl, who moved to the big city making herself the hottest name in the fashion industry, she gets engaged, but has one problem, she is still married back in her small town. She must face the people she left behind who show her how the simple life can bring them happiness, facing her husband to get the divorce to carry on with her life becomes more difficult than she imagined as she walks down memory lane. Jake Perry is the husband back in Alabama, he refuses to sign the divorce papers because he knows what that will mean, he grew up as the sweetheart of Melanie believing she is the one, while trying to make something of his life. Andrew Hennings is the fiancée in New York that will go against his mother’s wishes to marry Melanie. The rest of the characters mostly include the members of the small-town that Melanie has left behind, they all have their quirks.

PerformancesReese Witherspoon was the queen of the rom com at the turn of the century, this film shows why this was because she fits the film perfectly. Josh Lucas is good in his role and we completely believe him being from the small town. Patrick Dempsey does have a supporting role which he is good in as you can see him as the higher society guy compared to the small-town people. The rest of the cast get the laughs when you need them and give us the serious moments too.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that recreated herself to be a success, her past comes back to stop her reaching all the potential in this new life, which means she must walk down memory lane before deciding where her future is. This does show us how the past will always be important to your future and you should never forget where you came from. For rom com genre we know how this will play out and we can see the arc Melanie must go through during the film, the story will fill out the check list for the fans of the genre.

Comedy/Romance The comedy in this film comes from how the typical small-town locals are portrayed, we don’t get many psychical comedy moments. The romance leaves one woman needing to face her past love to be with her future love.

SettingsThe film is set in two main locations, the New York one shows us the new life Melanie has, while returning to Alabama we see the slower life she left behind, but loves deep down.

Scene of the Movie –
The wedding.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The small-town characters are slightly too generic.

Final ThoughtsThis might well be generic for the most part, but this works for the rom com genre which shows Reese Witherspoon shinning at what she always did best at the turn of the century.


Overall: Rom Com 101.




Oscar Isaac Weekend – Life Itself (2018)

Director: Dan Fogelman

Writer: Dan Fogelman (Screenplay)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Mandy Patinkin, Jean Smart, Olivia Cooke, Antonio Banderas


Plot: As a young New York City couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes.

Tagline – We’re all part of a greater story

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Storytelling Done Wrong


Story: Life Itself starts as we meet Will (Isaac) a depressed man whose wife Abby (Wilde) has left him, he is going through therapy with Dr Cait Morris (Bening) who he is telling the story of how they met, got engaged and were expecting their first child, only for tragedy to strike.

Will’s father Irwin (Painkin) raises their daughter Dylan as she must live in the world like her mother did. Dylan (Cooke) now 21 and ready to experience the world herself, live her own life.


Thoughts on Life Itself


Characters – Will is the depressed writer, he is telling the story of how he met Abby, fell in love and planned to start a family, we see the positives from the relationship they had and see how he is now struggling with life without his wife. Abby is the woman Will meets and falls in love with, she has had a tragic life with Will be the highlight of it. Dr Cait Morris is trying to help Will through the problems he is facing, being left by his wife, she knows the truth and is planning to make his face it one day. Irwin is the father of Will that raises Dylan, he does everything he can to make sure she has a wonderful life. Dylan is the daughter that has lived a life of tragedy, now 21 she is ready for the next stage of her life. Mr Saccione runs a vineyard which has a connection the tragic events of the film.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are on the average level, mostly because none of the talent gets enough time to shine, we seem to waste the talents of Oscar Isaac who does start interesting only for his part of the story to end, while Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke and Antonio Banderas just get time to do anything else.

StoryThe story is easily the most confusing and overly trying one you will see, we try to connect many lives together over many different time periods to show how life can happen and you never know the connection you could have with people. It is the way this story is told which leads to most of the problems, it could have work in drawn together better, but it just feels like we had a weak story ad went, lets stick an extension on this one and we get this a couple of times which just makes us feel uninvested in any of the characters we are meeting. This just leave us feeling empty and mostly bored through the story telling process.

RomanceThe idea behind this film is about romance being found in the most unusual place, which is fine, though this is too on the face with it.

SettingsThe film uses New York as the central location for this film, it works for the most part only it can come up short in places.

Scene of the Movie –
Ummm pass.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story telling process.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak, boring and unconnectable story that tries too hard to give us something bigger, while the ambition could be praised, the craft fails.


Overall: Weak and dull.




Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Awaken the Shadowman (2017)

Director: J.S. Wilson

Writer: Skyler Caleb, Woodrow Wilson Hancock III, James Zimbardi (Screenplay)

Starring: James Zimbardi, Skyler Caleb, Jean Smart, Emily Somers, Andrea Hunt, Robert R Shafer


Plot: After the mysterious disappearance of their mother, estranged brothers reunite and discover an unknown supernatural force.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Shock Filled Horror


Story: Awaken the Shadowman starts as Adam Morris (Zimbardi) and his wife Beth (Somers) get called back to the family home by his brother Jake (Caleb) after their mother Evette (Smart) has gone missing.

Returning home brings back bad memories for Adam and once he arrives things start to come off strange, we have a welcoming committee which Adam doesn’t know, blacked out eyed dolls known as watchers and a young charismatic preacher Lawrence (Weinfeld) for a group known as Getways as well as a mysterious shadow figure lurking around the house.


Thoughts on Awaken the Shadowman


Characters – Adam Morris is a hard-working family man, he has a hands-on job where he family struggle to make ends meet. He must put his past behind him to return home but now must put his family’s safety first. Jake is the brother of Adam that still lives in the same home town, he calls Adam back but you can sense the issues between the two as they try to bond once more. Evette is the estranged mother of the brothers, she has been involved in suicide attempts but now has disappeared. Beth is the wife (I think) of Adam that spends most of the film caring for the baby and being stalked around the house.

PerformanceJames Zimbardi does a good job in the leading role, we believe his characters struggle through the film, Skyler Caleb on the other hand does seem to struggle with his character, never getting normal or menacing believable through the film, Jean Smart is the biggest name in the movie but is mostly talk about her characters whereabouts.

StoryMan return home to find out things are not what they seem, that is the core of the story, we get the investigation into what has changed in this town and this offers a few twists and turns along the way as we learn just what is happening, this also does enough to surprise us by the end of the film too.

Horror/MysteryThe horror only comes into moments but they are effective with the Shadowman lurking in the shadows, like he should be. The mystery comes from Adam needing to figure out what is going on.

SettingsThe settings bring us to a home town for Adam which works because he feels like he knows the location but when it is your neighbours who have changed since you were last there it adds horror.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well only appearing when showing us the shadowman himself, that does feel creepy and original effects.

Scene of the Movie – The first image of the Shadowman.

I always get annoyed by one thing in a movie, this is that moment I would say the opening sequences gives slightly too much away.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror movie that does leave us with a shocking ending.


Overall: Good horror movie for late night tv.




Whisper of the Heart (1995)

logoDirector: Yoshifumi Kondo

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki (Screenplay) Aoi Hiiragi (Comic)

Starring: (Voices Talents Japanese) Youko Honna, Issei Takahashi, Takashi Tachibana, Shirgeru Muroi, Shigeru Tsuyuhuchi, Keiju Kobayashi, Yorie Yamashita (Voices Talents English) David Gallagher, James Sikking, Jean Smart, Harold Gould, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Martin Spanjers, Mika Boorem, Abigail Mavity, Cary Elwes, Brittany Snow, Ashley Tisdale


Plot: A love story between a girl who loves reading books, and the boy who has previously checked out all of the library books she chooses.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Beautiful Story of Young Love and Dreams


Story: Whisper of the Heart starts by introducing to young girl Shizuku who lives a normal life with her family. Shizuku is reaching junior school graduation and along with her best friend Yuko Harada are starting to change their outlook on life. Shizuku loves to read and checking books out of the library but she soon starts discovering that she is checking out all the books a mysterious man Seiji has been reading before her. Shizuku ends up following a cat around while on the way to delivering her father’s lunch where she ends up in an antique shop where she meets the owner who tells the most beautiful love story for Shizuku about the King of the Elves who was in love with an Angel but they could never be together.

Shizuku feeling inspired wants to meet this Seiji and find out who has been donating the books where she might meet her true love all while she steps into love for the first time in her young life. When Shizuku finally gets to meet Seiji she finds out it is a mystery guy who keeps turning up in her life. We watch how potential love story happens between the two as they both try to figure out what to do with their lives. With Seiji away Shizuku starts looking into a mysterious love story revolving around a statue called The Baron. Shizuku finds herself in the fairy tale guided by The Baron as she tries to find his lost partner a statue called Louise.

Whisper of the Heart manages to mix two very difficult times teenage school children face, the first love and figuring out what they want to do in life. we see how even if things are not going well or to plan giving up isn’t the best option is it is something you truly want to do. We get to see how not understanding what love is first time around can be confusing, but most importantly it shows us just how to achieve through sacrifice your dreams. My only negative about this film is that you get a feel that there will be a large fantasy element but in the end all you get is a small dream like sequence as Shizuku inspires herself with to write. This is a good story that tackles real issues without having to put them into an over the top fantasy element. (9/10)


Character Review


Shizuku: Shizuku is a young school girl who loves to read and write her own lyrics. We see how her love for books drives her towards a mystery man who has been checking the books out before her. We watch how she has to deal with her first love and learning how to deal with not knowing what she wants from her future. Shizuku is a good strong character that shows you just what it takes to achieve. (9/10)


Seiji: Seiji is the mystery boy who has been checking out the books and turning up in Shizuku’s life, he dreams of becoming a violinist and will sacrifice everything for a chance even if it means giving up on first love with Shizuku. Seiji is a good character that shows what a ready driven character would want from life before something changes his dreams. (8/10)


Support Characters: Whisper of the Heart has a large supporting character list that includes Shizuku’s family that all think differently about what she wants to do, we have the school friends who go through the first loves with our characters. We also have the mysterious Baron character that is only in Shizuku’s mind but his story is one that inspires her.


Director Review: Yoshifumi Kondo – Yoshifumi does a good job directing this very thought provoking drama about growing up. (8/10)


Animation: Whisper of the Heart is good quality animation that is even 20 years old this year and still looks good. (9/10)

Family: Whisper of the Heart could be one for all the family but I don’t think it has enough for the whole family to enjoy. (6/10)

Romance: Whisper of the Heart plays out a nice love story that shows how real love could go if you believe in it. (9/10)

Settings: Whisper of the Heart uses real settings for everyday life. (8/10)

Suggestion: Whisper of the Heart is one for all the fans of Studio Ghibili fans to enjoy because it will fit everything they are famous for. (Ghibili Fans Watch)


Best Part: Tackling first love very well.

Worst Part: It looks like it will have high fantasy but doesn’t deliver.

Romantic Moment: The Baron’s story.


Believability: It does tackle real life issues. (7/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes


Overall: Whisper of the Heart is a very good drama that tackles real life issues in a coming of age story.